It'a a Miracle...No! It's Dubai - flowers in the desert!!

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Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai
February 27th 2020
Published: June 13th 2020
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I bet you didn’t expect this amid total global lockdown that has had to be enforced as a measure to deal with this modern day plague of biblical proportions – Covid-19. Currently it is difficult to travel to a neighbouring town never mind foreign travel. ‘Foreign travel’– soon to be deleted from the English Oxford Dictionary? For those of you born in 2020 and reading this in the year 2035, ask your parents about foreign travel. Travelling abroad for leisure and fun. Ask your parents about fun! It really was a part of most people’s life before the world changed forever.

There are only so many boxsets I can watch or books I can read. My shoe leather had worn down from the amount of daily walks I have done. I can’t even go to the shops to buy a new pair!! Ask your parents about shops!! They used to be where people went to buy stuff before the shopping on line frenzy became the norm.

It’s been just on twelve months since the Peru and Machu Picchu blog. We haven’t stopped travelling since last June although I took a break from writing for no apparent reason although we have both enjoyed every minute of our wanderings that has seen us visit the Baltic, New England and the Canadian East Coast. Amsterdam to Basel on a Rhine river cruise, Maastricht and an Andre Rieu concert and Israel and Cyprus in the early part of this year. However, nothing has made me more excited as our next ‘big ticket’ item: Dubai to India.

This cruise starts in Dubai and after stops in Khor Fakkan (UAE) and Muscat (Oman), a two-day crossing of the Arabian Sea would see us arrive at our first Indian port, New Mangalore. From there we sail to Goa before spending two days in Mumbai. We should have visited India last year (2019) but, due to a family bereavement, the trip was postponed. This is our second bite at the proverbial cherry!!

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. A minor news story had broken several weeks before our departure regarding an epidemic of a new strain of virus in a relatively unknown corner of China called Wuhan. Watching the early morning news on our hotel TV at the premier Inn, Manchester airport, the virus had now spread to Italy, who, in order to try to mitigate the spread of the virus, had locked down its northern regions of Piemonte and Lombardy. Switching off the TV, I glanced outside.

‘Raining Again’, I mumbled to Roisin as we wheeled our suitcases out of our room. ‘If it’s raining in the UK, then you can bet the Hodgsons are off on their travels.’

It’s always raining in the UK’, Roisin replied.

Point proven I thought!!

The flight time from Manchester to Dubai was 6 ½ hours. This was a daytime flight aboard an Emirates A380, one of those double decker planes. Our seats were on the upper deck in the forward of the two economy cabins. We noticed that there weren’t many passengers heading up stairs and as the doors of the aircraft closed preparing for take-off, the other economy cabin was almost empty. Roisin asked the one of the cabin crew if she could move to the empty cabin. This was agreed providing she returned to her original seat prior to landing. I remained in our original seat. This gave us both more room. I popped down to see Roisin several times during the flight. To say she was as happy as a pig in muck was an understatement!!

I managed to cross off two movies on my ‘to watch’ list: Joker and Ad Astra. With my puzzle book, my kindle, a nice breakfast and a cracking Biriyani for lunch, the time soon passed.

We arrived at Dubai International Airport Terminal 3 which is mainly used by Emirates. This terminal alone has an overall capacity of about 60 million passengers per year. It consists of three concourses; A, B, and C and has six separate floors. On arrival we took the Skytrain to the fourth level of the terminal

Heathrow has certainly lost its dominance in size and grandeur. The Arrivals area was massive. There were fifty-two immigration desks and twelve E-Gates. All were well marshalled and for this reason, immigration took no time at all. As the old saying goes, what you gain on passport control, you lose on the carousel…the baggage carousel!!’ We queued up at one of the fourteen baggage carousels. After ½ hour waiting patiently with our eyes firmly fixed on the carousel, the feeder belt stopped. All the bags had now been offloaded but there was no sign of ours. The carousel was still moving with quite a few bags still to be claimed. We were about to give up and start the report process when Roisin spotted a grey holdall style case, closely followed by a blue hard top case with a bright orange padlock. To this day we have no idea where they had been and why they suddenly appeared on the carousel. They certainly didn’t appear via the feeder belt from the baggage handling area.

Taxis in the United Arab Emirates are plentiful and inexpensive…unless you pick one up from an airport or from within the cruise terminal!! In these cases, a 20 dirham surcharge is automatically applied. In order to arrive at our hotel, we had two choices; take a taxi - a twenty minute drive, door to door in the comfort of an air-conditioned cab for approximately £22.00 or a fifteen minute metro ride then a ten minute walk, lugging our cases in the mid evening humidity for a cost of £1.50 each. This was a no-brainer. The ticket machine for the metro only accepted 5, 10, or 20-dirham notes although it didn’t stop me trying to insert a 50 dirham note several times, hoping the next time would be the successful one. Credit card it was then!!

The Dubai metro is a modern rapid rail network consisting of two lines; red and green. The platforms are clean and spacious and the trains are all air conditioned. The trains arrive behind a glass panel and there are distinct markings on the floor indicating where the passengers must stand at either side of the train doors, in order to allow people to alight without the shoving and pushing associated with most metros around the world. All trains have five carriages and are divided into gold class, silver (standard class) and the end carriage is dedicated for women and children. It is not obligatory for women and children to ride in this carriage but remains optional.

Our journey took us six stops to Burjman then it was a short walk down SheikhKhalifah Bin Zayed Street to the Park Regis Kris Kin hotel. The pavements in this part of town were immaculately block paved. Nice to walk along. Not so nice if you’re wheeling a suitcase. The council certainly didn’t have wheelie cases in mind when they were designing the pavements. It took a lot of resistance to keep my case from veering. One paining wrist and aching left arm later we arrived at our home for the next two nights.

Our room was one of the biggest we’d ever encountered containing a three-piece suite, a super king size bed, and a bathroom the size of a small living room. The bedroom was so big that when I advised I was going to the bathroom Roisin prepared some sandwiches for me to take on the journey!! The bed was so big that the only way to communicate with each other was to send a text!!

In all hotel rooms in Muslim countries there is a sticker of an arrow found on the ceiling. This is called a Quibla and points in the direction of Mecca. This comes in useful for your all-important five-a-day (prayers not fruit and veg!!)

We realised that we hadn’t eaten for some hours now and were feeling slightly peckish. We took a walk to a nearby 7/11 which, ironically, was still open despite the time being just gone midnight!! The UAE is four hours ahead of the UK so, in reality, it was only 8pm.

Tomorrow is our only full day in Dubai. We have been here three times before so plan on visiting somewhere new. Somewhere that is innovative and different. You don’t have to go far in Dubai to feel the ‘wow’ facture and tomorrow would be no different…


14th June 2020

Welcome Back
Great to hear from you both again - I was beginning to get worried about you. How about retrospectively writing about some of last years adventures ?
17th June 2020

Retrospectively writing
Hi Philip, Great to hear from you. It would be difficult to trace my steps without notes as many things would just merge in to one and to be honest, on a lot of these cruises, not a lot of exciting stuff happens!!!
14th June 2020

welcome back
you two are amazing. keep on traveling
17th June 2020

Hi Ken and Alice, Thanks for continuing to read, Great to hear from you. Please continue to comment, good and bad (but mainly good, please!!)
15th June 2020

Great to see you posting again
Love reading your blogs again, good as ever, the doughnut story in the other one was golden.
17th June 2020

.The one with the doughnut!!
Thanks Michael. I'm glad it amused you but probably not as far as wetting yourself as it did me!!!

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